I’ve missed a couple of days this week in my daily posting. Mea culpa. What can I say? One should not dwell on such things. The world didn’t end after all. One picks up and moves on…
But, what exactly do we pick up? What do we pick up from failure? Even when it is mostly ourselves we’ve failed? What do we move on with?
Hopefully, we pick up lessons learned. We move on with the knowledge learned from these.
For me, I think part of my failure to honor my commitment here is not a lack of writing or things to write about. It is, in fact, that right now I have too much to write about. I’m actively writing two books that are greatly related. One of them is released and people have paid for. Therefore, my head space dwells mostly in that subject area. The writing I do around this is committed to these two projects such that I have nothing left in me to be shared here.
One of the things I have learned from running is that, in training, you always want to end your run feeling like you have a "bit left in the tank". In other words, that you could go a little bit further if you wanted to. The fact is that I have not been doing this with my mental energy. I’ve been reaching the end of my day empty.
I think the solution may be to change my strategy a bit. Perhaps to share some of the research and process and ancillary thinking that is going into the other work. Perhaps seeing some of this will be useful and revelatory to you. Perhaps it may even help you in your own work.
I’ll try that for a while and we’ll see.
I know you are thinking, “Gosh. Can it get any more boring?”
I’m thinking, “Do you really want me to answer that question?”
How did I become a writer? I learned to write at age 4 or 5 and then just never stopped. As a teenager, I self published a book of the most angst ridden crappy poetry the world will likely ever see and found the courage — the audacity — to sell it. To people I liked! As a young man at the dawn of the Internet, I co-wrote a zine, posted half-baked prose on a BBS, and emailed my work to my friends on AOL. I co-wrote and published a general interest magazine for handheld devices. No matter my occupation or job, I never let it get in the way of writing — making art and putting it out there — every day.
If you want to get better at your art, you have to make your art every day. If you want your art to spread and gain an audience, you have to put what you make out there into the world. And, more often than not, that means looking for something to inspire that art. Some days, that may mean some deep, soul moving, insight never before explored. Some days, it may be blogging your breakfast1. Some days that means the great stuff. Some days that means the less than great stuff. Some days that means the truly boring stuff. But you have to find the courage to put it out there for others to see, share, shred, or otherwise speculate on it. You often may not like what you hear but you take it and go back and make more art tomorrow.
I sit down at the keyboard and pretend I know what I’m doing or writing about or know how to make complete sentences.
I pretend that I have something to say and that others want to hear it. That they need to hear it.
I pretend that it is more important than any of the other far more important things I could be doing.
I pretend that book I just wrote is the best thing I’ve ever written.
I pretend the next one will be even better.
I pretend I’m not procrastinating on writing the next book by still writing this one instead.
In other words (and in so many more ways than this), I fake it.
But, then, someone quotes a complete sentence I wrote because they enjoyed it.
Someone else tells me that I said something they needed to hear.
Then my wife tells me the work I’m doing is important.
And someone whose work I admire tells me they enjoyed my book and they think the next will be even better.
Then, I realize that I could not have finished writing my next book without laying the groundwork and learning some lessons from this one.
Then I know I’ve made it.